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Paso’s Niner Wine Estates offers variety and value


The city of Paso Robles is located almost exactly between Los Angeles and San Francisco, two of the largest and most distinct cities in California. When wine from Paso hit the national stage, it was Zinfandel that stole the show. Soon after, lots of Rhone varietals began to emerge. In earlier days, many of the efforts were big, extracted wines featuring high alcohol. Things started to change, and today, Paso Robles is home to a truly wide array of different grapes, many of which thrive in its varied climates. In addition to that, many producers are making proportionate wines, so much so that the cartoonish wines of years back are well in the minority. One of the producers that is part of that sea change is Niner Wine Estates. In addition to Paso Robles, they have estate vineyards in Edna Valley. Here are some terrific Niner wines from each.

Niner Wine Estates 2014 Estate Albarino ($20)

All of the fruit for this wine came from their estate vineyard, Jespersen Ranch, in Edna Valley. This is a 100 percent varietal wine. After fermentation, it was aged for 10 months in stainless steel prior to bottling. Toasted hazelnut and lychee fruit aromas fill the welcoming nose here. Stone fruits such as white peach, apricot and nectarine are all in abundance on the delicious and full-flavored palate, along with bits of spice. The finish is long, mellifluous and dotted with topical fruits. Firm acid contributes to the mouthwatering nature of this Albarino. It’s delicious, refreshing and hard to put down.

Niner Wine Estates 2013 Estate Chardonnay ($25)

About 1,200 cases of this Chardonnay from Jespersen Ranch in Edna Valley were produced. It’s 100 percent varietal and was aged in entirely French oak; 30 percent of the barrels utilized were new. Orchard and stone fruit aromas fill the nose, along with toast and spices galore. The palate shows off apple, peach and pear flavors with baker’s spices. Toasted pecan, crème fraiche and continued fruit flavors fill out the above average finish. This is a fine example of Chardonnay that is enhanced by time in new oak without it becoming a distraction. Lovely sipped by itself, this Chardonnay will excel with soft cheeses, pastas with creamy sauces or a simple roast chicken.

Niner Wine Estates 2012 Estate Pinot Noir ($35)

The fruit for this wine, 100 percent Pinot Noir, was hand-harvested, all of it from Edna Valley’s Jespersen Ranch. Aging occurred over 10 months in French oak, 30 percent new. Black cherry and vanilla aromas lead the nose, followed by wisps of ripe wild strawberry. A core of spices joins black and red fruits on the medium-bodied palate of this Pinot. Cranberry, pomegranate, cinnamon and black tea elements are all in play on the layered and lengthy finish. Firm acid provides nice structure. The Niner Pinot Noir will pair well with a variety of food styles.

Niner Wine Estates 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($40)

Fruit for this wine came from two distinct vineyard sites in Paso Robles: BootJack Ranch (76 percent), and Heart Hill Vineyard (24 percent). In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (92 percent), some Malbec (4 percent) and Petit Verdot (4 percent) were blended in. Barrel aging occurred over 10 months in French oak, 30 percent new. Black raspberry and plum aromas leap from the nose. Blackberry, plum, black cherry and bits of savory herb, such as thyme, fill the substantial palate which has excellent depth. Earth, roasted chicory and bits of chocolate sauce emerge on the even-keeled and memorable finish. This is a lovely example of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.

This quartet scratches the surface of what Niner Wine Estates is doing. Their broad array of offerings from both Paso Robles and Edna Valley offer something for a multitude of appetites. These are fairly priced, vineyard-driven offerings. In short, the wines of Niner Wine Estates are worth your time and resources. Drink them up.

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